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Social science research continues

/ 05:05 AM March 28, 2020

In dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, social science research has a role to play.

Informal jobs are dominant. In the National Capital Region and the Balance of Luzon, three-fifths of jobholders (those with trabaho), are self-employed. Only two-fifths are hired by registered private enterprises, and thereby have social security and other benefits from their employers and from the government.

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Of the self-employed, only one-third are formally registered. The bulk are totally informal, lone individuals working on their own; they are some 7.2 million adults in Luzon, including Metro Manila (Social Weather Stations data, 2019).

At least half of them have very little income, since they have not completed high school, and live practically from day to day. The national government and the barangays do not have the apparatus to transfer a living allowance to so many people immediately.

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I think informal workers should not be unnecessarily prevented from earning their day-to-day living. They should not be blocked by checkpoints; they should not be totally deprived of transportation. They know the need for physical distancing; they readily wear face masks. It is their clustering together that deserves to be regulated, not their individual movement.

The situation of the elderly. Households consisting of purely senior citizens, or else only seniors and youngsters below age 15, “could be from 700 to 800 thousand in Luzon, of which … one-third or about 250 thousand belong to the poorest half of households in the country.” (Source: “Special programs needed for the elderly and elderly households during the Enhanced Community Quarantine,” by G. Ducanes, S. Daway-Ducanes and M. Ravago, Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development, 3/16/20.)

Elderly people know about physical distancing and face masks, too. Putting restrictions on their movements should not be too stringent, or else should be accompanied by arrangements for home deliveries, telephone hotlines, systems for ordering medicine, sending photo-IDs and photo-prescriptions, telemedicine, etc.

Opinion polling should continue. Thanks to telephone infrastructure, the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute did a survey last March 10-19, using a probability-based panel of 1,384 respondents. Here are selected findings:

What is your chance of being infected in the coming month? Average, 29 percent, using a 0-10 rating scale.

How worried are you that a person would die due to being infected? Very much, 13 percent; Moderately, 29 percent; Slightly, 36 percent; Not at all, 13 percent.

Used face masks in the last week: 97 percent.

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Working from home, 75 percent; flexible working hours, 26 percent; staggered shifts, 23 percent; on leave without pay, 11 percent.

School closure is needed to control the coronavirus in Hong Kong: 91 percent.

Government performance in handling the coronavirus: 23 percent satisfied, 15 percent half-half, 61 percent dissatisfied.

Opinion researchers, world over, are not sitting on their hands, and are sharing their experiences—for example: https://www.people-press.org/2020/03/26/worries-about-coronavirus-surge-as-most-americans-expect-a-recession-or-worse/.

Filipino researchers have prepared. The Marketing and Opinion Research Society of the Philippines (MORES) has a “Field Protocol in the Period of Health Crisis,” 3/13/20. It includes practices for recruitment of fieldworkers, conduct of fieldwork, research among immuno-compromised segments, and research among health care professionals in hospitals and health centers, among other topics. I hope the local market research companies begin doing their own surveys soon.

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